7 World Trade Center
by James Carpenter
Seven World Trade Center was the third building to collapse on September 11, 2001, and it is the first to be rebuilt. Designed by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), the new building is composed of 42 floors of office space set above eight floors of Con Edison transformers (located in large concrete vaults at street level).
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James Carpenter Design Associates (JCDA) was invited to join the design team in late 2002, after the building's prismatic form — derived from significant site planning — was already established. We were asked to collaborate on the curtain wall, the base of the building containing the transformers, and the lobby.
The site's new master plan radically altered the building's context. Before its destruction, the original 7 World Trade Center was accessible only from the podium of the complex, four stories above street level, where the blank granite box was dominated by Con Edison's industrial louvers. With the loss of the World Trade Center's raised podium, by necessity, the new design had to still accommodate the transformers, and also respond to a new public and urban presence at street level.
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This article is excerpted from Engineered Transparency, edited by Michael Bell and Jeannie Kim, copyright © 2009, with permission of the publisher, Princeton Architectural Press.